PHD Vacancy – Role of Dopamine and Serotonin in Behavioral Control in the face of Stress
For additional details and application form follow this link.
The project will involve a combination of (i) PET imaging to measure dopamine release and serotonin release in response to stressors in healthy human volunteers, (ii) pharmacological fMRI to assess the neural, physiological and behavioral/emotional effects of dopaminergic and serotonergic drugs (like psychostimulants and antidepressants) and (iii) computational cognitive modeling to identify latent computational parameters that index the control of neural, physiological and emotional responses to stressful outcomes. The design of these experiments will be guided by a theoretical framework, according to which the brain prioritizes distinct behavioral control strategies depending on fluctuations in stressor controllability, utility and volatility.
You will be part of the ERC Advanced CHEMCONTROL team, which comprises 2 postdocs and another Phd student. Your primary focus will be on the PET imaging studies, including the setting up of the PET imaging acquisition protocols, the design of the stress challenges and the analyses of the PET imaging data. A secondary focus will be the pharmacological fMRI study. Together, the CHEMCONTROL team will integrate computational modeling, pharmacological fMRI, PET imaging, and focused transcranial ultrasound stimulation to unravel the brain mechanisms by which we adapt flexibly to the many stressors around us.
You will be embedded in the research group of Roshan Cools at the Donders Institute, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN) and interact closely with the Radiology (Nuclear Medicine) department at the Radboudumc. In addition, there will be an opportunity to collaborate closely with key international players in the field of computational neuroscience.
Our new PhD candidate is expected to have the background knowledge, skills and motivation that will allow you to fully exploit and learn from the rich research environment that the Donders Institute and the Nuclear Medicine department provides (including its intellectual and technical infrastructure).
You are an independent scholar and brain scientist of human cognition and emotion, who is ready to acquire the skills required for conducting all phases of pharmacological neuroimaging research, including conceptual and experimental design, applicaotion for medical ethical approval, computational modeling of behavior, PET imaging measurements, PET, MRI and behavioral data acquisition, PET, MRI and behavioral data analysis, PET, MRI and behavioral data interpretatin and publication. You are also expected to be a team player, willing to take on a leadership role that is necessary to coordinate a PhD project, working closely with multiple research group leaders, postdocs, fellow PhD students, research assistants and research master students.
You have a passion for mechanistic research at the borders of functional neuroimaging, psychopharmacology, computational cognitive science, and affective neuroscience. You are curious, ambitious, and can work independently. Your English is fluent in speaking and writing at an academic level. Speaking Dutch is not required for this position.
You also meet the following requirements:
- You hold or have finished and nearly obtained a research master degree in the field of cognitive neuroscience, technical medicine, biomedical sciences, or a related field;
- You have experience and skills, or are interested in neuroimaging (functional and structural MRI or PET imaging) and/or psychopharmacological (drug administration) studies;
- You have experience with, or are interested in, computational and statistical modelling;
- You have strong communication and coordination skills.
Furthermore, you recognize yourself in the profile below:
- Hold or have finished and nearly obtained a research master degree in the field of cognitive neuroscience, technical medicine, biomedical sciences, or a related field;
- Experience and skills, or are interested in neuroimaging (functional and structural MRI or PET imaging) and/or psychopharmacological (drug administration) studies;
- Experience with, or are interested in, computational and statistical modelling;
- Strong communication and coordination skills.